Praying for Peace

In response to the recent shooting at a club in Orlando, our local Interfaith group organized a Prayer Vigil. It was put together very quickly, a testament to the trust and cooperative nature of our diverse religious community.

Prayer Vigil- GroupPersonally, I am a bit skeptical of prayer vigils. Often it feels as though we use prayer as an excuse for not doing the hard work of addressing social ills and injustices. If, for example, we pray for peace because we truly want peace, then our prayers must be those of action to end violence and warfare. We cannot expect peace to miraculously fall from the sky and settle upon the earth. War and violence are the fruit of human action. We, therefore, must be the ones to overcome it. No amount of wishing and praying for peace – devoid of action – will end war.

Nevertheless, as an active member of out Interfaith coalition, I joined in the planning and performance of the service. It was a simple affair, held at local church, and attended by sixty or so individuals.The names and ages of the victims were read by individual attendees. After hearing the name, the congregation responded with, “May you be at peace.” I then sounded a bell, and a candle was lit for victim named. There were music and prayers from local clergy. It was a beautiful ceremony. Though focused on the bell, caught up in details of the service, I was touched by a deep sense of peace and well-being.

Our little ceremony did nothing to address war, gun violence, bigotry, or hatred. It did, however, offer healing. Each person in attendance had been touched by the violence in Orlando. The service offered them the opportunity to share their grief with others, many of whom were strangers. In our our shared witness to the brokenness caused by violence, we – surprisingly – found solace and peace.

There is still violence in the world. But for a short time, on a Wednesday night, we were able to connect with others and find the strength and hope to live faith-filled lives in response to senseless violence and undeserved suffering.

Peace, Paul

Photo: Some of the members of the “Interfaith Communities in Action.”

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5 Responses to “Praying for Peace”

  1. deancarlisle Says:

    Just gun control won’t help but other things as well like getting teachers into schools who would make great role models for our youth.

  2. melhpine Says:

    Yes, sometimes we need to come together in ceremony with like-minded people to affirm the path even though the ceremony itself doesn’t seem to propel us on the path.

  3. Linda Says:

    I loved this thoughtful and thought-provoking piece. Thank you for reminding us in matters of social justice, that we ourselves must be the answer to our own prayers. In my own experience I need ritual and communal prayer to help keep me from giving up or getting burnt out. Prayer should never be a substitute for what we are called to do together. Great Post! I look forward to reading more.

    • Peace Paul Says:

      Thank you for sharing. I think you have hit upon it exactly. I often forget about the importance of communal prayer.

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